Please note: SARAI is pronounced like sa-RAY.
I'm the author of the novel Dietland (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - May 2015, and numerous international editions). My essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Washington Post. I worked as a writer and editor on the 2005 update of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and previously wrote for magazines including Seventeen and Mademoiselle. I earned my M.F.A. in creative writing from Bennington College, and my Ph.D. in English from the University of London. I've taught writing and literature at several universities. Current projects: I'm living in Los Angeles and working on the Dietland television series. I'm also writing a TV pilot and working on my second novel, which is even more bonkers than my first one
My Ph.D. research focused on normative femininity of the body; the fat female body; consciousness-raising and the ‘personal is political’ in feminist practice and as a literary aesthetic; American second-wave feminist history and fiction; ‘chick lit'; critical theory, particularly Michel Foucault. I read a lot of amazing books during my Ph.D., but if I had to choose the one that influenced me the most, I’d choose this one.
The photos on the Home page of this website come from the 1968 protest against the Miss America pageant. This is one of my favorite moments in American feminist history. [I wrote a bit about it in my Ph.D.] Contrary to popular belief, feminists did not burn their bras during this protest. Instead, they threw bras, girdles, high-heeled shoes and other items into a "Freedom Trash Can." Carol Hanisch, one of the organizers and participants, writes:
"We did some street theatre which included throwing 'instruments of female torture' as we called them, into a freedom trash can. This is where the bra-burner myth started, by the way, but we weren't allowed to burn anything, including bras. We did throw in some bras, and we also threw in high heels, nylons, girdles, corsets, garter belts, hair-curlers, false eyelashes, makeup and Playboy and Good Housekeeping magazines."
On her website, Hanisch provides interesting commentary on the protest, including some criticisms of what happened.
The "Miss America Cattle Auction" photo and the "Let's Judge Ourselves As People" photo are licensed from and copyrighted by the AP. The "Freedom Trash Can" photo is copyrighted by Alix Kates Shulman. The photo of the women with their arms raised in the air is copyrighted by Bev Grant.
On the Press and Contact pages, you can see real vintage diet ads. I have no further information about them, but I love how they subvert our modern expectations about what kind of body size is acceptable.